A Letter From GAC’s New Executive Director

Dear Artists of Guelph-Wellington,

I was asked to write this in order to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of the Guelph Arts Council, a position I am humbled and overjoyed to have accepted. 

I’ll take a moment to fulfill that request. I am first and foremost a father to one (who at 10 is already an artist in his own right), “fur-father” to two cats and two dogs, and an avid baker. My own artistic journey began with studying piano and organ under Maestro Paolo Busato alongside membership in the St. Charles Choir School in Toronto, and later attendance at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. I have studied at Carleton University (International Development and Human Rights), Toronto Metropolitan University (Film Studies) and OCAD (Integrated Media). I have composed the music for countless short films, live theater performances and commercials, in addition to directing several short films myself (which have premiered and won awards at the Montreal Film Festival, on CBC Television and Toronto After Dark Film Festival). I am currently the main songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist for Guelph-based Alt Pop-Noir band Season Of The Senses

Professionally, I have dual-streams of experience in nonprofit management: arts and the social services. To that end, I have held management roles within Habitat Services, Soundstreams, Toronto Dollar, Weston Village Business Improvement Area, The Caritas Project and most recently the Ontario Film Authority and Film Review Board. 

These are things I have done and you are always welcome to contact me to hear more about these things, but I would much rather talk about you and about us as a community. 

One of the truest, simplest and most profound artistic statements I have ever heard is that lack of limitation is the enemy of creativity. While the statement was applied in an artistic context when I first heard it, I can think of no more appropriate statement to our current situation as a community. As we begin to emerge from the shadow of a global pandemic, we have felt limitations all too acutely: on our ability to gather, to see each other, to publicly practice, perform, present. Limitations on the private and public resources available to support the community. Within the bounds of these limitations many of us found, having no other choice, new ways of telling our stories, or letting our voices be heard. For some, the limitations became an opportunity. For some, survive became thrive. 

But this was not true for all. For some, survival meant just that, and for the Guelph Arts Council, this also presents an opportunity: to find and actionably amplify the voices that were left behind, unheard and overlooked – during the pandemic, and often well before that. We now have the opportunity to examine what conditions and infrastructure allowed for some artists to turn limitation into opportunity, and what prevented others from doing the same. We have lessons to learn and share amongst ourselves, and this sharing can form the core of a strong and vibrant arts community in which every voice is welcomed and heard: a harmony & counterpoint with  many voices, each integral and necessary. 

Further to this sharing, we have yet another opportunity: to remind the community-at-large that the arts are quite literally transformational for individual lives, and as a whole, part of the sustenance which nourishes a healthy community. As public discourse turns to recovery, we have an opportunity to provide a constant reminder that throughout the uncertainty and separation we all experienced, the arts remained a source of shared experience, confrontation, comfort and joy. Now is not the time to forget that, but instead to create a strong, consistent and constant reminder: for ourselves and for the public that relies on nourishment the arts can provide.

As we move forward, this is the reminder that I hope to bring and amplify to the community as a whole. Your voice, and all of our voices, in harmony and sometimes in dissonance – but no less beautiful for it.

I look forward to serving the community,


Damian Weston
Executive Director
Guelph Arts Council 

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